Congress is infamous for pork, a pejorative
description for government largess spent on projects of dubious value
in members' home districts.
Suddenly, though, Congressional Cemetery in Washington is in the spotlight for goats, with a herd of about 100 unleashed to do what they do best: grazing.
The point is both practical and environmentally friendly: the goats are expected to weed the historic final resting place of many US legislators, in the heart of the US capital.
"The goats will graze 24 hours a day for six days, eliminating vines, poison ivy, ground cover and even fallen debris, all the while fertilizing the ground," the Association for the Preservation of the Historic Congressional Cemetery said as it launched the project.
This "revolutionary use of eco-goats," as the association described it, "eliminates the need for harmful herbicides and prevents the invasive and often foreign species from killing large mature trees in the cemetery's wooded area, which can fall onto the grounds as a result and damage invaluable historic headstones."
Having goats to graze on a cemetery that holds more than 6,500 graves has a further advantage, according to cemetery president Paul Williams: unlike expensive pesticides, the herd of goats provide a week's week for just 4,000 dollars.
"The public is invited to come to the cemetery to see the goats, but we ask them to stay away from the fence not to disturb the goats," Williams said, "especially if you are a dog walker."
The goats, which arrived Wednesday and will be at the cemetery through Monday, seemed uneasy after their arrival on the grounds, perhaps alarmed by the presence of a large group of journalists keen to report on their first day on their green job.
"Eco-goats," though are not a new idea. The herd has been at work for five years, delivering low-impact grazing and weeding at parks and other historic sites, and have become veteran subjects for news features and TV reports.
This may be the first time the goats get to digest pastures so rich in history and political legacy, with nearly 200 legislators resting under the headstones of the cemetery.
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